The surrogate matching process is incredibly intricate. Every successful surrogacy journey starts with a solid, right-fit match, so surrogacy agencies will take all the time they need to make sure they get to know both the surrogates and Intended Parents they’re working with.
Gay Parents To Be works with different surrogacy agencies each and every day, to ensure that intended parents and surrogates get the best possible care. Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists is one agency that we work with frequently, and they happen to be local to our CT offices! We’ve asked them to weigh in here on some of the ins and outs of the surrogacy matching process.
Definitions: What Is A Surrogate?
A surrogate is a person who carries a pregnancy to term for another family. The word “surrogate” is generally used to describe someone carrying a child for another person, but we often use it interchangeably with “gestational carrier.” A gestational surrogate carries a pregnancy created using eggs and sperm from other sources - she is not genetically linked to the baby she carries.
It’s important to keep in mind that every surrogacy journey is different. The time it takes for you to match with a surrogate will depend on a number of different factors: your location, your family-building goals, your personal preferences, and many more.
Generally, the surrogate matching process can take anywhere from 6–12 months, though this may vary widely based on your unique situation.
Let’s break down the very first stage of the process: how agencies find qualified surrogates.
Finding Qualified Surrogates
Before the matching process begins, your surrogacy agency will work to make sure that they’re working with only the highest quality surrogates—women that are healthy, responsible, and communicative.
The surrogacy screening process varies from agency to agency, but the most comprehensive processes involve a number of in-depth assessments and evaluations.
- The Surrogacy Application
Potential surrogates first need to submit an application to see if they meet the basic qualifications. You can read one surrogate’s journey with the application process here.
Surrogate applications typically cover their background, pregnancy history, obstetrical/gynecological information, and background information on their spouse or partner (if applicable).
- Surrogate Documentation
Once their application is completed, surrogates are typically required to submit a collection of personal documents to provide more information to the agency. These may include photos of the applicant, photos of their home, their insurance cards, a valid driver’s license, release forms (to request medical records and perform background checks/psychological evaluations) and other documents.
These documents allow the agency to get a more in-depth perspective of each potential surrogate. They provide additional context beyond the application and give the surrogacy agency all of the permissions and information they need to continue the process.
- Psychological Evaluation & Background Check
Next, surrogates undergo a psychological evaluation with a licensed clinical psychologist and complete a formal personality assessment (usually the MMPI or PAI). The psychological evaluation is extensive, covering every aspect of the surrogate’s personal history and background: family history, substance abuse issues, mental health, etc. Many clinics will also conduct their own psychological evaluation to ensure the evaluations are as thorough as possible.
The surrogate and their spouse or partner (if applicable) also undergo a formal background check so the agency can determine if they have any history of criminal activity. The most reliable agencies will also conduct home visits to report on the quality of the home environment (checking for safety risks, paraphernalia, indoor smoking, etc.).
- Medical Screening & Approval
The medical screening of surrogates is one of the most important parts of the process—and typically one of the most time-consuming. Surrogates need to submit their pregnancy and delivery records for a preliminary review by the clinic. The preliminary approval process alone can take two to three weeks, as a team of doctors will need to review and approve them.
Collecting all of the necessary records alone can take a significant amount of time depending on the surrogate’s history. For example, if they’ve delivered multiple children, each at a different hospital, then the agency needs to coordinate with multiple OBGYN offices and hospital records departments to collect everything they need for the agency and IVF clinic to obtain a full understanding of a surrogate’s pregnancy and delivery history.
Finding the Right Surrogate Match
Once each surrogate has completed the initial application process and has been accepted, only then will the surrogacy agency start looking for a match for the Intended Parents.
Luckily, an attentive, reliable agency will truly get to know each surrogate throughout the application process: their personality, their background, their preferences, and so much more.
When it comes to the matching timeline, it all comes down to the preferences of the Intended Parents. The more flexible your preferences are—where the surrogate lives, whether she’s married or single, etc.—the faster you’ll find a successful match.
It’s much more difficult for agencies to find a surrogate that meets a very specific set of criteria. For instance, if you’re only interested in surrogates that are located in the Northeast region of the United States, are under the age of 30 years old, are married, and have a BMI under 26, then your pool of qualified candidates will be extremely limited.
The matching process itself takes roughly six months, but of course, the agency will always try to do it sooner. If your preferences are incredibly specific, it may even take up to a year or more to find a successful match.
The best way to speed up the matching process is by trusting your surrogacy agency.
Surrogacy agencies are there to ensure you find the perfect match, to guide you on a happy, healthy journey that will help you realize your dream of starting—or growing—a family. They’re dedicated to finding only the healthiest, happiest, and most qualified surrogates that are fully committed to giving you the gift of a lifetime.
At the end of the day, the surrogate matching process timeline will always vary. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your agency will take as much time as they need to give you the highest quality journey.
Once you’ve been matched with your surrogate, you will begin to navigate the next steps of your journey. Learn more about building a healthy intended parent - surrogate relationship here.
Interested in more about intended parent - surrogate relationships? Learn how to ask questions and build the best relationship with your surrogate below.
A big thanks to Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists for their expert insight.